Tom Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The NFL released the 2014 schedule for all 32 teams on Wednesday. The Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks will host the Green Bay Packers in the season opener on Sept. 4.
The last time the two teams played at CenturyLink Field was in Week 3 of the 2012 season that ended in a last second hail mary that was ruled a touchdown by the then replacement officials that gave the Seahawks a 14-12 win. Replays later showed that it was not a completion.
"This game won't be about the past," Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said of the rematch. "It will be about the 2014 Green Bay Packers."
The Packers have played the defending Super Bowl champions in three straight seasons.
"It's a tremendous opportunity for our football team," McCarthy said. "We have experience playing in the kickoff opener three years ago, and we will draw on that. Obviously, being the visiting team this time presents new challenges. It will help sharpen our focus even more during training camp and the preseason."
Steve Dykes/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The Seattle Seahawks have shutdown cornerback Richard Sherman, who is entering the final year of his contract this season. The team and Sherman are in ongoing discussions, but the two sides are far apart, reports ESPN NFL insider Ed Werder.
Sherman is due $1.4 million this season and had 18 pass deflections to go along with eight interceptions, including his biggest in the NFC Championship game against the 49ers to clinch their Super Bowl berth.
"Whatever they feel I am due. I will take it as respect," Sherman told NFL Network on Wednesday. "It's all about respect in this game and the only way people show respect is the dollars. We'll see what happens."
The New England Patriots signed cornerback Darrelle Revis during the offseason to a one-year deal for $12 million and Sherman could command even more than that.
Seattle will open up the season on Sept. 4 at home against the Green Bay Packers.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images (CHICAGO, Ill.) -- Patrick Kane scored a little more than halfway through the first overtime session to give Chicago a 4-3 win over St. Louis in Game 4 of their Western Conference playoffs matchup. The Blackhawks dropped the first two games of the series but have rallied to win each of the last two.
"Every game feels like I've gotten a little bit better," said Kane who missed the last 12 games of the regular season with a leg injury. "Whether it's timing or getting used to playing in the playoffs again, whatever it may be, just try to keep getting better and better and use these games to my advantage."
After a scoreless first period, Kane helped Chicago take what looked to be a commanding lead in the second. Andrew Shaw opened the scoring on a power play goal before Kane made it 2-0 a few minutes later. The Blues would rally tough: Vladimir Tarasenko and Maxim Lapierre reeled off consecutive goals in the final 1:09 of the frame to knot things up.
Tarasenko added a second goal in the third to give St. Louis the lead. Less than for minutes later, Bryan Bickell scored his first goal of the postseason to tie the game at 3-3 and eventually send the game into overtime.
Last year's Conn Smythe Trophy winner ripped a shot off the crossbar before eventually scoring the game winner with a wrister that beat Ryan Miller.
The series now shifts back to St. Louis for Game 5 on Friday night.
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The Seattle Seahawks will begin their title defense on Sept. 4 against the Green Bay Packers in the season opener for the NFL. A rematch of the infamous "Fail Mary" game in 2012 starts the 2014 season for the defending Super Bowl champions while Green Bay opens their third straight season against the world champs.
The NFL's opening weekend is highlighted by a Sunday night matchup of Peyton Manning and his old team as the Denver Broncos host Indianapolis on Sept. 7 before a Monday night doubleheader. The New York Giants will kick things off at Detroit before the Arizona Cardinals host San Diego.
Other noteable games see an expansion of the league's trips across the pond with three games being played in London. The Miami Dolphins and Oakland Raiders will battle one another on Sept. 28 before the Lions and Atlanta visit England on Oct. 26 in a 9:30 a.m. start. Dallas and Jacksonville will also play in London on Nov. 9, finishing the trio of trans-Atlantic contests.
As always, the Cowboys will host a Thanksgiving Day affair when they take on Philadelphia at home as part of another NFL tripleheader. Chicago will visit the Lions in another traditional matchup before San Francisco and Seattle play a primetime game.
Bye weeks in the NFL will begin in Week 4 and last until Week 12 while the regular season comes to a close on Dec. 28 with a full slate of divisional matchups.
Scott Halleran/Getty Images (HOUSTON, Texas) -- For the second time is as many games, LaMarcus Aldridge set it off. The Portland power forward scored 43 points on Wednesday for the second straight game, leading the Trail Blazers to a 112-105 win over Houston a 2-0 series lead.
A native of Dallas, Aldridge has scored 89 points through the first two games of the series, including a franchise record 46 in Portland's overtime win over the Rockets in Game 1. His back-to-back 40-plus scoring nights puts him on the same list as Michael Jordan and Tracy McGrady as the only players to score 40 or more points on the road in Games 1 and 2 of a playoff series.
"What can they do to stop him? He was great once again," said teammate Damian Lillard who added 18 points in the win. "When a lot of guys couldn't get going and couldn't get shots, he carried us."
The Trail Blazers now return home winning two games on the road to open a playoff series for the first time since the 1977 Western Conference Finals. Portland had a six point lead heading into the fourth quarter and was able to hold off a late rally by the Rockets to clinch the victory.
Dwight Howard led Houston with 32 points and 14 rebounds, connecting on his first six shots of the game. James Harden struggled, however, going just 6-of-19 from the floor. Game 3 is set for Friday night in Portland.
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images (BOSTON, Mass.) -- New York Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda was ejected in the second inning of his start against Boston on Wednesday night after being found with pine tar on his neck. The Red Sox would go on to win the game, 5-1 at Fenway Park.
The righty had trouble controlling his pitches in the first inning and when he returned for the second, was seen with a noticeable smear on his neck that was not previously there. Red Sox manager John Farrell then asked homeplate umpire Gerry Davis to inspect the pitcher and after finding the foreign substance, Davis ejected Pineda.
"I fully respect that on a cold night, you're trying to get a grip," said Farrell. "But when it's that obvious, something has to be said."
In his first start against Boston on April 10 at Yankee Stadium, Pineda was accused of having a foreign substance on his wrist. Pineda said after it was a combination of dirt and sweat he used to get a better grip of the ball. Following his ejection on Wednesday night, the 25-year old admitted to his mistake and apologized for his actions.
"I don't think he's trying to do anything to cheat, I think he's trying to go out there and compete," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. "He used bad judgment tonight. He'll admit to that."
While there is no mandatory suspension for pitchers using a foreign substance, Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Joel Peralta was forced to sit out eight games in 2012 for a similar incident. Major League Baseball has yet announce a decision, but both Girardi and Yankees GM Brian Cashman expect a suspension is coming.
Christopher Trotman/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Phoenix Suns guard Goran Dragic was named the NBA’s Most Improved Player on Wednesday.
The 27-year-old Dragic received 408 out of 1,134 points, followed by Indiana Pacers guard Lance Stephenson with 158 points and forward Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans with 155 points.
In the 2012-13 season, Dragic averaged 14.7 points and 7.4 assists per game. This year, he improved his scoring average to 20.3 points per game.
The Suns finished the year with a record of 48-34, which was a 23-game improvement from the previous season. They were narrowly beat out by the Dallas Mavericks for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- Chicago's Wrigley Field is all about tradition - the ivy, the hand-worked scoreboard, the curse of the billy goat - and on its 100th birthday Wednesday, the field and its fans relived in that history.
Chosen to throw out the first pitch at the game between the Cubs and Arizona Diamondbacks was Sue Quigg, the grand-niece of former Cubs owner Charles Weeghman -- the field was originally called Weegham Park. And the ball was the same one that her grandmother, Dessa Weeghman, threw a century ago to begin a game between the Chicago Federals and the Kansas City Packers to inaugurate the ballpark.
Much has changed in the game and the world outside the stadium walls, but park itself, which was rebranded as Wrigley Field in 1926, remains in many ways, untouched.
Through several renovations, the steel and brick frame of the original structure remains intact, while the same strain of ivy and manually operated scoreboard constructed in 1937 are among the many charming reminders of bygone days where fans would turn out to games with picnics, drink Old Style ale and chow down on classic Chicago Dogs.
"These are the things that have made Wrigley Field stand out as one of the best ballparks in the country,” Julian Green, the Cubs’ vice president of communications, told ABC News. “It's also why its hailed as a sort of baseball cathedral.”
The last time the team won the World Series was in 1908, but Wrigley Park has continued to thrive as a cultural and historic landmark through the years. It stands as the second-oldest ballpark in the Major Leagues alongside Fenway Park (the oldest). Both are revered as hallowed ground by ballplayers, fans and pundits who observe the traditions and hold inauspicious beliefs about the Cubs’ long-held losing streak.
The field has also been marked by several moments ingrained indelibly in the minds of those old enough to remember them, and in numerous films and history books that memorialize them. One much-recalled moment is the case of the goat of Wrigley Field.
Legend has it that after a man's goat was kicked out of a World Series game in 1945 for being too stinky, the man allegedly threw up his arms and proclaimed that “The Cubs ain’t gonna win no more” World Series. The team lost that day to the Detroit Tigers and never recovered. The Curse of the Billy Goat to this day hangs over the heads of stadium workers who never anticipated the decades of hircine-inflicted karma to follow.
The field has also be popularized in the public imagination by The Blues Brothers, who gave the stadium’s address to police as their own in their classic 1980 film, while Ferris Bueller also famously went there on his day off six years later in the American coming-of-age flick.